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Dr. Joseph Bellezzo, an emergency room physician affiliated with Sharp Memorial, was the first to perform eCPR — CPR that incorporates an ECMO machine — in the U.S. Courtesy photo
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Sharp Memorial Hospital offers advanced treatments for heart attacks

At Sharp Memorial Hospital, skill, technology and compassion combine to create health care choices never thought possible. The heart and vascular program is led by a team of board-certified physicians who ensure all patients receive the highest-quality care.

Sharp Memorial has pioneered many new cardiac technologies, including the first open-heart surgery, first heart transplant and first cardiac catheterization in San Diego.

In 2010 a handful of dedicated emergency physicians at Sharp Memorial became the first in the nation to incorporate the use of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) — a temporary, advanced life-support system that takes over the work of the heart and lungs so those organs can recover — and other forms of innovative resuscitation to save the lives of patients experiencing cardiac arrest.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women and men in the United States, and every 40 seconds, someone has a heart attack. Of the 356,000 individuals who have an out-of-hospital heart attack each year, only 12% survive. Immediate cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can double or triple the chance of a person’s survival.

eCPR — CPR that incorporates an ECMO machine — provides a bridge that maintains blood flow to the organs, while the underlying cause of the heart attack is determined and treated.

Dr. Joseph Bellezzo, an emergency room physician affiliated with Sharp Memorial, was the first to perform eCPR in the U.S. Alongside his colleagues Dr. Zachary Shinar and Dr. Christopher Ho, the team developed a leading eCPR program that is highly coordinated, with a multidisciplinary, skilled team of experts dedicated to giving patients the best chance for survival.

The pioneering physicians at Sharp Memorial have developed educational resources for health care providers across the country, including a podcast, research papers, the first eCPR textbook, and a regional training conference.

More than one-third of patients who require eCPR after a life-threatening heart attack — and come to Sharp Memorial to receive specialized care — survive.

Sharp has cardiac specialists across San Diego County focused on helping patients improve their heart health.

To learn more, visit or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.